"Bright Star"

I watched the movie BRIGHT STAR this weekend; the story of the poet John Keats and his love, Fanny Brawne. His words and poems touched me in such a new way, and as a writer I live for those “aha” moments where something springs forth and offers new understanding or appreciation for the written word. I hadn’t read much of Keats before, but now I can’t get enough. This dialog from the movie (thanks to Faith for sending it to me) below struck a chord with me and I thought I’d share:

Fanny: I still don't know how to work out a poem.

Keats: A poem needs understanding through the senses. The point of diving into a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore but to be in the lake, to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out, it is a experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept the mystery.

And really, isn’t this what we all strive for as writers, for the reader to experience something “beyond thought,” regardless of what style we’re writing? I can only hope to one day write words that another can experience. In the meantime, I will luxuriate in the sensations his words give.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes and end with the poem BRIGHT STAR believed to be written for/about Fanny. It’s no wonder she fell in love with him!

"You are always new. The last of your kisses was even the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.” — John Keats

"I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I were dissolving... I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you. My creed is Love and you are its only tenet - You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist." — John Keats

" Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death."
— John Keats


  1. Bright Star was an AMAZING movie! And Keats was an amazing person. I get all tingly, for lack of a better word, when I read that poem...also some of his letters to Fanny are just beautiful. How often do you read of something so abstract as "love" and feel it in such a real way as when you let yourself get lost in those words?
    Yes, no wonder Fanny fell in love with him. :) I have to admit, when my husband wrote me some poems even before we were dating, I knew then he was going to be stuck with me forever. How can you resist a man who not only can write poetry but isn't ashamed to? ;)

  2. Thankfully you and your husband can have the romance and poetry without the tragedy of Keats and Fanny. I wonder what his poems would say about love had he lived to marry and have children.

  3. I haven't seen the movie, but those are beautiful quotes! Thanks for sharing :)


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